Students from Frank J Mitchell Elementary School in Sparwood came out to the ribbon cutting ceremony for the new interpretive trails at the Beaver Wetlands in town. Students, from left, Charli Allardice, Lynton Bowen, Aaralyn Devine, Brooke Hartery, Nicholas Stogneff and Kaylee Webb all contributed artwork to the signs for the trail system. Alexandra Heck/The Free Press

Sparwood Elementary students cut ribbon on new trails

Elk River Alliance partners with Frank J Mitchell to establish interpretive trails

Students, teachers and officials cheered as they cut the ribbon to the new interpretive trails which run through the Sparwood Beaver wetland.

“When doing environmental stewardship, we don’t often stop to celebrate our success,” said Lee-Anne Walker, with the Elk River Alliance.

The environmental organization, with the help of students and volunteers in the community helped clear the pathways of noxious weeds and planted more sustainable varieties.

Grade four students from Frank J Mitchell helped design artwork to go on the signs set up along the trail, and throughout the year, grades two and three students at the school will study the ecology in the wetland.

“You’re going to have the opportunity to see more wildlife in nature,” said Walker to the students, crowded on the rock ledge, eagerly waiting for the trails to officially open.

Sparwood Mayor Cal McDougall spoke to the students as well.

“This is an area that you and your friends will study,” he said. “I think it’s a great learning experience.”

The project was made possible with financial contributions from the Elk Valley Thrift Store, Columbia Basin Trust, the municipality and the Federal government.

Walker explained that Canada’s wetlands are significantly endangered and nearly 70 per cent of them have already been lost in the country due to development and pollution.

“We tend to treat wetlands like wastelands,” she said, adding that when the project started, the precious section of land in town was on the verge of being sickly in terms of the health of the ecosystem.

“This is a healthy place,” she said, congratulating the students on their participation. “It will be here not only for you, but your children and grandchildren.”

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